Independent PR collective Deck Time Stories endeavors to push the Malaysian dance music scene forward to be on par with it international counterparts. This month they share with JUICE their dance music outlook for this year and marvel at the massive return of dance music as it crosses over into the charts. Is this a good or bad thing? Deck Time Stories talks to A & R Manager of Defected Records, Andy Daniel to find out.
Text: Deck Time Stories
Hip hop and dance music make strange bedfellows and yet if you’re tuned in to one of many pop radio stations or are watching any music video channel, it is blatantly obvious that there seems to be a merging (a marriage made in heaven even) of both styles.
Historically both dance music and hip hop share many similarities especially in terms of origin. Both genres were borne from a shared vein of soul, funk and disco. Both were the love-children of the need to express individuality and celebrate yourself and your life far beyond your otherwise dire inner city upbringing. Times then were decidedly happy and carefree.
However over the years hip hop went from a vibrant culture of happy block party vibes, preaching socially positive messages to a messy East Coast – West Coast, gang dominated, sexually demeaning, emotionally blank form that celebrated above all else the almighty $$. Dance music on the other hand went to Europe, became big in open fields and super clubs, got in with the wrong druggy crowd and emerged from the late 90s haze completely confused about identity (or lack of). To top it all off it burrowed itself completely underground and was in grave danger of becoming a forgettable and a sometimes laughable niche genre.
And yet now, by some big miracle, dance music is back bigger, better, healthier and even more popular than before. The once resistant public have embraced dance music with hip hop elements as well as hip hop music with distinctly “dancey” riffs. A teeny-bopper of today would see dance music beats and elements as being part and parcel of what is happily accepted as ‘normal’. Forget Kanye … the true comeback king of the new decade is most definitely dance music.
So what changed? Can any one person take credit for this? We spoke to the one of the most respected men in dance music record industry, the A&R manager of Defected Records, Andy Daniel. Make no mistake, this man can spot a hit record from a mile away and that’s what has kept Defected at the top of their game. An authority on this subject? Hell yeah!
What are your thoughts about how hip hop records have embraced dance music elements? Good or bad?
I think hip hop incorporating dance music and likewise both hip hop and dance music being incorporated into pop music is a good thing. From my point of view these things always go in cycles and it’s dance music’s turn again. Today’s pop fans are tomorrow’s dance music fans. People’s tastes will always develop and mature so the people into David Guetta and Black Eyed Peas might be into more “underground” house/dance in a few years time. Hip hop has always been a pretty forward thinking genre and also very driven by wanting success. So when people see the units Guetta et. al. are doing they want to be part of it.
Do you think Guetta working with BEP, Akon, Kelis, have been the catalyst for this or are there other factors involved?
I think the biggest catalyst for the current pop/dance/hip hop melting pot is one man. Will.i.am. If you look back a few years ago, Will was in Ibiza working with Fedde Le Grand. So it’s obvious he’s been interested in dance music for a while, but where Fedde maybe didn’t work David Guetta did. In David Will found what he was looking for and in turn Will opened the door for Guetta in the American music industry. The proof of this is ‘I Gotta Feeling’ which is the most downloaded record of all time. The influence of these first Guetta / BEP records then led onto the pop/dance explosion we are currently seeing.
Is dance music being dumbed down too much?
I don’t think so because I see the stuff that’s in the charts as pop music not dance music. People on the underground will always hate on success but I think good luck to them. The underground scene will always do its own thing and have its own market, likewise the overground scene will do the same and have its own market. There will be some crossover, but I don’t think it’s dumbed down as there is great stuff if you look a little deeper.
From an A&R point of view has this made spotting the next hit record harder or easier?
It’s not changed things a huge amount. As a label we (Defected) are more underground and are slightly removed from the pop side of things so our policies haven’t changed so much. That said there is certainly a lot more potential for a hit record at the moment and that can be no bad thing.
Good or bad and completely Deck Time Stories is happy that dance music (especially in Malaysia) is back in the limelight. Club numbers are robust and local radio stations are putting on dance music specific shows. We hope that this positivity sticks for some time to come and the scene thrives cause we just love to dance damn it!
Dance with Deck Time Stories at www.decktimestories.com.